About Spectrum Connect

Our Mission Statement

We are dedicated to providing opportunities for Autistic kids to build social networks and try new experiences in a safe environment. By creating a space that is supportive of the needs of Autistic kids, we take some of the stress out of negotiating social situations. With some of those stresses reduced, the kids are freed to have fun in the space and learn their own tools for navigating relationships.

Importantly, we are NOT here to "teach" social skills, to encourage kids to mask their impulses or to pretend to be something they aren't. We feel strongly that script repetition or training to act like their neurotypical peers is, at best limiting, and at worst a cause of future trauma. These groups are specifically intended for the kids to develop their own skills, manners and coping mechanisms.

Who are we?

Spectrum Connect Australia is owned and operated by Kathryn and Mathew Grey. They are children's entertainers who have been working with children in numerous locations and situations since 2007. Over the years they have hosted events for groups such as Ronald McDonald House, Camp Quality, Cystic Fibrosis Camp NSW, Starlight Foundation, Aspect, Adelaide Fringe Festival, MS Foundation, Adelaide Festival Centre and many more.

The idea for Spectrum Connect came from feedback from parents after a school holiday program they ran in 2019. Purely by chance the 3 day event had a high number of Autistic children enroll. It turned out to be very popular and many children chose to re-enroll to come on multiple days. One mother told us they had never seen there son engaging with other kids so easily and for such a long time. So we conducted research and started to look at ways to recreate what worked and improve on it.

How do meetings work?

Meetings take place for 1.5hrs one afternoon a week after school. Sites are chosen to have appropriate lighting, low noise, easy parking, large spaces and away from major roads. The meeting space is divided into 4 areas.

The main space is where the weekly focal entertainment takes place. Weekly focal entertainments take place for 1 hour, starting 15min after group start time and finishing up 15min before the end of group meeting time. The purpose of the primary entertainment is to give the kids shared experiences and shared goals to work towards. Group members are encouraged to participate in the focal event but can choose to be involved as much or as little as they want. If they need a break or aren't interested in the focal entertainment there are 3 other areas they can use.

There is a Burn Off zone, for jumping, bouncing and shaking out excess energy. There is a Chill Out Zone for quiet times and sensory avoidance. Finally, there is the Game Space for shared play and other activities like board games and crafts. These spaces are free for the kids to move around and use the equipment provided as they like.

Group meetings are facilitated by a team of supportive staff members. There is one staff member to every 4 participating group members.

Spectrum Connect Youth Group meeting rules

1) No one has to do anything they don’t want to do.
2) Everyone is welcome to use any items provided and be in any part of the space. This means you can use the items provided but also means you shouldn’t try to stop other members sharing the items with you. The privacy tents are the only exception to this rule.
3) If someone is in the privacy tent please give them space. Only enter if they invite you.
4) Each week there is a different activity. You don’t have to participate but we do ask you to try to listen to the introduction and explanation before you decide
5) Respect your fellow members and the staff. This means giving people space, no unwanted touching or crowding, no physical roughness, no name calling. Talk to others the way you would like them to talk to you.
6) Respect the areas and use them for what they are for. The quiet area is for sitting and low energy, relaxing space. The Burn Off area is for energetic activities. The Creative and play space is for board games, drawing and other medium activities.
7) Listen to your body. If you feel like you need a break, take a break. If you need to get up and jump, get up and jump in the Burn Off Area. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable and centred.
8) Do not walk out of the building without an adult. If you need to walk away from people you can go to the tents or the playground. 

Gallery

Some pictures from our trial program which was run in November of 2020 or from our school holiday program run in 2019.

No pictures are shared of any children without having express permission.